Tomahawks: How to Cook HUGE Steaks

by Kyle Cooper
Posted on

Cowboys & Tomahawks

 

These steaks are HUGE!  Much thicker than our traditionally cut grass-fed ribeyes with a huge bone sticking out.  You know the opening sequence of the Flintstones where they put the side of brontosaurus on the peddle car and it flips over?  Kind of like that.  Perfect for Father's Day.

Here are some tips and suggestions on how to cook the perfect bone-in ribeye for Pops.

Tomahawk:
Both beef and bison tomahawks will come with a 10-12" rib bone sticking out.  While this bone looks incredible and will add tons of flavor, they're challenging to cook on a small surface.  They work best on an outdoor grill or under the broiler.

Bison Tomahawk: Bison is leaner than beef and cooks more quickly.  Shave a couple mins off the suggestions below.  Even better, use a meat thermometer for precision.

Cowboy:  
These bones are not nearly as long, about 3-4" max (pictured above).  These are best on an outdoor grill or in a cast iron skillet.

Need to thaw your steak for day-of cooking?  Place your steak into a container large enough to completely submerge the meat in water with ample room.  Place the container in the sink, fill with ice then cold water.  Set your faucet to a trickle and run it into the bowl so that the water is circulating and spilling over the edge.  The steak should be fully thawed in 90-120 minutes.

Grills:  Gas and Charcoal

  • Season heavily; the thickness of these steaks will require a lot of salt to penetrate all the way through.  Use coarse salt and apply generously and let sit out on a plate for 60 mins prior to cooking.  This will allow the salt to penetrate while the steak comes to a uniform temperature throughout.
  • Save the cracked black pepper for just after you take the steak off the grill.  The intense heat of the grill will cause the pepper to burn and leave a bitter flavor.
  • For gas grills, turn all your burners on high, scrape the grill grate clean and close the lid.  Pre-heat for 20-30 mins; you want the grill as hot as possible.  
  • For charcoal, stack the lit charcoal on one side of the grill.  Remove grill grate and scrub clean and then replace as close to the coals as you can and cover; you want the grill as hot as possible.
  • Pat dry with paper towels just before searing. Surface moisture will hinder the caramelization of the proteins, thus affecting your awesomeness.
  • When the grill can't get any hotter, turn off the burners on one side of the grill.  Grease the grate using an high temp oil (veg, avocado, safflower) soaked rag or paper towel and tongs.  Place the steak over the flame side and sear hard, about 3-4 mins per side. then move to the OFF side and close lid. If using a charcoal grill, move steak to the side without charcoal and cover with lid.
  • Cook through; about 7-8 mins.  The timing is a suggestion; use a meat thermometer for precision.  Cook to 120 for rare, 125 for mid-rare, 130 for med, and so on.
  • Remove to plate and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Let rest for 20-30 mins under an aluminum foil tent.  These steaks are thick and need a while to relax and reabsorb their juices.
  • Slice perpendicular to the grain and serve.


Broiler:

  • Season heavily; the thickness of these steaks will require a lot of salt to penetrate all the way through.  Use coarse salt and apply generously and let sit out on a plate for 60 mins prior to cooking.  This will allow the salt to penetrate while the steak comes to a uniform temperature throughout.
  • Save the cracked black pepper for just after you take the steak out of the oven.  The intense heat of the broiler will cause the pepper to burn and leave a bitter flavor. 
  • Set one oven rack to the highest position, another in the middle position and set to HIGH broil.  Let heat for 10 mins.
  • Pat dry with paper towel just before searing.  Surface moisture will hinder the caramelization of the proteins, thus affecting your awesomeness.
  • Place steak on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet that you don't care too much about and center under the broiler.  The heat of the broiler might distort the baking sheet.
  • Pull up a chair and sit down infront of the open oven to monitor it's progress.  A broiler is pretty much and upside down grill so it won't take long to sear.  3-4 mins on each side.
  • Move the baking sheet with steak to the middle rack.  Close door and set oven to Bake @ 250F and finish cooking for 5-7 mins.  Time is a suggestion so check with meat thermometer for precision. Cook to 120F for rare, 125F for mid-rare, 130F for med, and so on. The residual heat from the broiler setting will help the steak along.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.  Let rest for 20-30 mins under an aluminum foil tent.  These steaks are thick and need a while to relax and reabsorb their juices.
  • Slice perpendicular to the grain and serve.


Cast Iron: on stove top or grill

  • Season heavily; the thickness of these steaks will require a lot of salt to penetrate all the way through.  Use coarse salt and apply generously and let sit out on a plate for 60 mins prior to cooking.  This will allow the salt to penetrate while the steak comes to a uniform temperature throughout.
  • Save the cracked black pepper for just after you take the steak off the heat.  The intense heat will cause the pepper to burn and leave a bitter flavor.
  • Place cast iron over heat source and preheat for 20-30 mins on low until the handle is too hot to touch.  Set oven to 250F is using a stove top.
  • Gather 1 tablespoon of cold butter (keep in fridge until ready to use), a sprig of thyme,a large garlic clove and a large spoon.  Set aside.
  • Pat dry with paper towel just before searing. Surface moisture will hinder the caramelization of the proteins, thus affecting your awesomeness.  
  • Turn heat to high and add a high temp oil (veg, avocado, safflower) to form a thin but solid sheet on the bottom of the pan and gently add the steak, laying it down away from you to avoid burning oil kisses.
  • Sear hard for 3-4 mins per side.
  • Remove from direct heat by moving to the off side of the grill or to the middle rack in the oven.  Cook for 3-4 mins until internal temp reaches 120F for rare, 125F for mid-rare, 130F for med, and so on.
  • Remove skillet from heat source and move the steak to the far side of the skillet opposite the handle.  Immediately add the cold butter, thyme and garlic.  Let the butter go crazy for a few seconds and then, with the towel covered handle facing towards you, tilt the skillet so the butter pools at the bottom but the steak stays on the other side.  Spoon the juices over the steak continuously for 1-2 mins, until the butter stops foaming.  As former Top Chef judge and all around good guy Hugh Acheson says, this will make life worth living.
  • Remove from the skillet and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.  Let rest for 20-30 mins under an aluminum foil tent.  These steaks are thick and need a while to relax and reabsorb their juices.
  • Slice perpendicular to the grain and serve.


Okay, great.  You've got your perfectly cooked steak, now what?  I suggest simple and in large quantities.  

  • Take a walk around the farmer's market and pick out some large, hearty and seasonal veggies.  What ever looks good to you.  Onions, Carrots, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Corn (if it's there) and even grapes all do really well cooked whole on a grill;  first on, last off.  Get em nice and charred then quarter and place on a platter for the table.
  • Lighten up the herbed butter technique by combining equal parts finely chopped herbs and good olive oil and place in the fridge over night or as long as you possibly can.  The herbed oil will solidify and become butter-like in consistency.  Place a small spoonful on top of the steak just prior to serving.  Parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano do well.  Do several different kinds but one herb per container please.
  • Does Dad like beer? Hoppy single IPA's and pale ales pair with these rich steaks, especially the buttery ones.  Wine you say?  A deep Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to the robustness.  Has raising you made him like something a little stronger?  Irish Whiskeys tread in-between sweet bourbons and peaty scotch.  If you can find it, I highly recommend Green Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey.

 

 

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